Way back when the house was just a shell, I used to dream of a weekend like this last one. I’d fill it with amazing women, fabulous food and we’d talk and read and hang out, helping each other with the cooking and the washing up. We’d walk through the woods and sit around a fire-pit at sunset, teasing each other about the Bridget Jones moments of our lives and reminding each other of the times when we won – against all the odds. It would be the ultimate in a girls’ weekend away.
So when my pal, Tanja Gangar sent me a Facebook message from her Indian ashram where she was studying to be a yoga teacher to ask if we could have a women-only yoga retreat when she got back, I grabbed the diary. ‘Let’s do Hallowe’en’, I said, imagining a covern of witchy magic where she could show us what she’d learned on her mid life gap year.
And so we did.
But what happened was much more than my original dream. Tan had gathered a group of women of ‘a certain age’ who shared that thing that belongs to women who have lived a while. A certain age; it’s an odd phrase. We’re certain about so much at 40 plus, but the phrase suggests that we’re hesitant about the time it took to get here. We love those Bridget Jones stories, but worry about the lines that were carved when they weren’t quite so funny. We define ourselves by other people – kids, partners, friends, parents – whether we have them or not, and, faced with a world without them, we freeze in fear of the long road ahead. How to love again when your heart is broken, how to live again when your home is empty, how to let go of illnesses you’ve conquered but hover like the shadow they once were.
I don’t know how Tan’s own brand of GangaMa yoga managed to tease all that out of our group – and more. As we stretched and found ourselves in positions we didn’t think were possible, maybe we opened up those magic chakras where all the juicy stuff lives. Maybe the auming and humming and twisting and folding made us feel all the bits of us that we’d forgotten to feel, and the Universe approved. As Tan stood in tree pose on Sunday afternoon, she remembered that it was Divali, and with that thought, the light poured into A Sussex House, bathing us in sunshine. We threw open the doors, letting the outside in, and breathed in the first day of the rest of our lives.
GangaMa yoga is a yoga practice for women of a certain age. We’re certain about some things and we know nothing about the rest. And that’s ok. And you read it here first – GangaMa with Tanja Gangar will grow. It will find women who want to retreat to the middle of nowhere and stretch and fold and twist until they cry or laugh or simply sigh. They’ll cook together and share their Bridget Jones stories as they wash up afterwards. They’ll forgive their kids, partners, friends, parents and throw their affirmations into a fire under a sunset sky. They’ll walk through the woods and see the magic of a herd of deer cross their path. It’ll be the ultimate girls’ weekend away.
Next GangaMaYoga Winter Weekend Yoga Retreats with Tan Gangar
Cleanse and Renew: Friday Jan 6th- Sun 8th 2017
Love and Acceptance: February 10th – 12th 2017
For beginners to intermediate levels For more info, click here